Every year, close to 1,000 children reside in Connecticut’s domestic violence shelters, with many more coming into contact with community domestic violence organizations. Most children residing in domestic violence shelters have experienced significant trauma through exposure to violence and many have suffered other forms of maltreatment prior to entry to shelter. They are at higher risk for developmental and educational difficulties and may have unmet medical and mental health needs at time of entry to shelter. Unfortunately, entry to shelter can disrupt primary care services.
Primary care includes health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, counseling, patient education, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses in a variety of health care settings. Primary care physicians (PCPs) focus on prevention so that health problems and risky behaviors can be caught early or prevented altogether. Children who receive care by their PCPs have better educational outcomes such as a decrease in health-related tardiness and school absences, decreased discipline problems and suspensions, and a reduction in school drop-out rates.
Our newest policy brief focuses on meeting the primary health care needs of children living in a domestic violence shelter. Tips for meeting these needs are discussed for both shelter advocates and healthcare providers.